Problem gambling in Australia - update

Australian politicians Steve Fielding and Nick Xenophon have accused a Senate committee of stalling on their proposed bills aimed at curtailing pokie and problem gambling.

The committee, chaired by the Labor government's Claire Moore rejected the accusation, saying that it was examining three related bills in all, which have been useful in focusing attention on the issue of problem gambling. However, the committee has recommended that none of the bills should be passed until the completion of a report by the Productivity Committee, which ends its work late next year.

Moore observed: "At this time, to take three piecemeal bills and actually put some action into place without the value of what will be a full-scale, deeply and effectively independently researched Productivity Commission report, would not be the appropriate thing to do."

Senator Fielding was adamant in his claim that the move was a stalling tactic: "One of the reasons some groups have lobbied for the Productivity Commission report is to in fact delay a decision on taking real action now to reduce problem gambling from pokies, in the hope that their revenue will be protected," he said.

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